Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mountain Magic

Scanning the mountains for the magnificent Black Eagles.

Marekele National Park in South Africa’s Limpopo province to me must rate as one of the most scenically beautiful National Parks in the country. Except for the wonderful mountainous terrain and the largest Cape Vulture breeding colonies in the world of 800 birds, it is also home to the big Five and refuge for the rare Black Rhinoceros. Our aim wasn’t to seek out the big game of the area however but rather a trip to the top of the mountain to view the Vultures and other interesting birdlife occurring up here.

An unusual sight of four Klipspringer together.

The trip up was punctuated by regular sighting of the remarkable Klipspringer antelope which, in order to survive in its rocky domain have evolved to walk on the tips of its hoofs, enabling it to negotiate the stony terrain. These otherwise skittish antelope are used to the traffic in the park and allows wonderful photographic opportunities. It was quite a treat viewing up to four individuals at a time, They normally occur in pairs and the reason we were seeing four together was the fact that the previous seasons youngsters of almost adult size were accompanying their parents. Soon they would seek out a companion and leave their parents. The vultures were present by the dozen albeit at a distance, not allowing any decent photography and a pair of Black eagles glided past on rapier wings. Other interesting birds were the Buff streaked chat, a South African endemic and a Gurney’s sugarbird, a genus confined to Southern Africa.

Southern African Endemic Gurney's Sugarbird (left and SA endemic Buff Streaked Chat (right)